Media Studies and Digital Arts

Saint Michael's Journalism

Media and journalism education at Saint Michael's has a strong reputation among working journalists, academics and employers familiar with our award-winning student publications, job-ready and technically savvy graduates, and innovative leadership on the latest story-telling technologies. Until recently known as "Journalism and Mass Communication," our department just changed its name to "Media Studies, Journalism & Digital Arts," reflecting a revised curriculum that's geared to the demands and potential of current technologies for today's professional communicators.

As a media studies student, you will learn to write quickly, accurately and under deadline pressure. You will learn to conduct research using traditional and electronic sources. You will acquire a deep understanding of the ethical and legal responsibilities associated with being a communicator - whether in the newsroom or the marketplace. And you will develop a mastery of current technologies, including multimedia, digital photography, digital video and digital audio and social media.

Since today's journalist must be a generalist's generalist - a Renaissance person in an age of specialization - we insist that each student obtain firm grounding in the liberal arts. You’ll find that beyond teaching you specific essential skills, we also continually promote your broad and perceptive understanding of society.

Hence as a St. Mike's "MJDA" major you'll gain basic journalistic skills such as news-writing, editing and information gathering, grounding in the ethical responsibilities of a professional communicator, awareness of connections among various technologies and the messages delivered through them, and international understanding (ideally including study abroad).

There are two versions of the Media Studies & Digital Arts major: one with a journalism concentration, and one without.  Both versions combine the arts and sciences with hands-on communication skills, critical to our students as they learn to become effective communicators in our Information Age.

Whichever version you choose, our revised curriculum has three core strands that will be present through the classes you take:

1. Media Studies

We focus on the research and analysis of all media types and styles-news, advertising, photography, film, magazines, radio, television, web, and wireless/mobile media. Most broadly, we explore important questions related to the impact and influences that media are having on all of us.

2. Digital Media Arts: Digital Photography, Digital Film, Animation, Interactive Web Design

We produce films, digital photographs, digital audio productions, television productions, TV ads, interactive web designs, animation, wireless/mobile design. We have state-of-the-art computing labs, high-definition video cameras, digital still cameras, broadcast video cameras, digital audio recorders, and a host of web and interactive authoring tools.

3. Journalism: Writing, Reporting, Informed Citizenry 

Our emphasis is on producing interesting and important investigative stories. How can we help make a more informed citizenry? How can we better understand our local, regional, national, and international connections? Visit our online news magazine.

A Global Media & Cross-Cultural Focus

We have a strong international media studies component to the curriculum which includes Global Media, Development, and Culture, Foreign Correspondence, Global Media, Expression, and Identity and a wide range of internationally-oriented courses through Saint Michael's Global Studies Program. We also require all students to study abroad/away at some point during their four years. 

All students develop a comprehensive digital portfolio of the works they produce, which often includes research, thesis, news articles, films, webs, photo essays, and animations. We strongly recommended that students also complete a minor and/or an 18-credit concentration. The minors our students complete spans a wide range of fields and disciplines-Global Studies, English, Political Science, Music, Art, Philosophy, Theater, Biology, History, Sociology, Environmental Sciences.

The Department of Media Studies, Journalism & Digital Arts was established in 1974 through grants from the Frank E. Gannett Foundation and other sources, the proceeds of which continue to support the program.

Allison Cleary, MA

Instructor, Media Studies, Journalism and Digital Arts; International Service Coordinator, MOVE
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M.A. Syracuse University, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications
B.A. Kenyon College

Prior to coming to Saint Michael's College in 2006, I was senior editor for Eating Well, a national magazine. With a focus on health, social justice and human interest, I also have edited and written for Reader's Digest Health Publications, Da Capo Press and a variety of consumer, non-profit and corporate publications that include books, magazines, newsletters and websites. 

Courses I Teach:

  • Advanced Writing
  • College Writing
  • Feature Writing & the Magazine
  • Investigative Reporting for Print, Web, Radio & Television
  • Media Studies Internship

I often include an element of community engagement in my courses so that students benefit from real-world challenges and community organizations benefit from student learning.

Mike Donoghue

Adjunct Professor/Academic Adviser
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I joined the journalism faculty as an adjunct professor at Saint Michael's in September 1985 and also serve as an academic adviser for about 20 students. I have worked for over 40 years as a news and sports writer for The Burlington Free Press, Vermont's leading news source, and have directed the newsroom intern program for over 12 years.

My desire to teach journalism comes from a career filled with a deep interest in helping future journalists. At the College I have taught a variety of courses, primarily Mass Communications and Society, Media Law and Ethics, Practicum and Advanced Reporting. I am also a former co-adviser to The Defender, the award-winning Saint Michael's student newspaper, founded by my late father, John D. Donoghue '32.

I also am a frequent speaker at professional training sessions, schools and other public gatherings. I have served as a trainer to numerous professional groups including the Vermont Press Association, New England Press Association, New England Society of Newspapers Editors and Investigative Reporters and Editors.  I am also called upon to meet with international journalists passing through Vermont and was one of four Americans invited as an instructor at a national conference in Ireland in June 1998 after the passing of that country's Freedom of Information Act. I am well known as a strong advocate of open government and has appeared in court multiple times to fight successfully for the release of court documents or to keep courtroom doors open. I was a founding member of the Vermont Coalition for Open Government (2005). I have been called on regularly to provide testimony before the Vermont legislature on a wide range of First Amendment related issues.

During my two terms (1983-85) as president of the Vermont Press Association, I was instrumental in getting the association anchored at Saint Michael's and with getting cameras into Vermont courtrooms. I am currently the part-time Executive Director of the VPA, which helps provide leads on jobs, internships, scholarships and more to students, while also hosting seminars and speakers. I served two terms on the governing board of the New England Press Association and chaired three committees: publications, legislative and outreach. I was elected in 2011 to serve on the board of the New England First Amendment Coalition. I was elected to the Board of Directors for the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association in 2003, served as its national president for two years (2006-08), and remain on the NSSA board. I also served two terms as president of the Vermont Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association. I was elected to three terms on the Board of Trustees at Southern Vermont College.

Traci Griffith, JD

Media Studies, Journalism & Digital Arts Department Chair, Associate Professor of Media Studies, Journalism & Digital Arts
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J.D. Notre Dame Law School
M.A. Florida A&M University
B.A. Political Science DePaul University

I began my teaching career as a visiting professor in September 2001 and joined the tenure track faculty one year later. I came to St. Michael’s College from Chicago where I was a correspondent with The Associated Press. I worked as a national editor for The Associated Press broadcast division in Washington D.C.

Utilizing my law degree and my years as a professional journalist, my teaching focuses on Media Law and Ethics in the Digital Age and Writing for the Media. I have created a special topics course on Gender, Race, Ethnicity and Sexuality in Media and developed a course in Cyber Law.

I currently serve as a board member for The Vermont ACLU, Vermont Public Radio, and The Vermont Press Association. I work with numerous local organizations and serve the community through her work focusing on the issues of homelessness, poverty and AIDS.

Jon Hyde, PhD

Associate Professor of Media Studies, Journalism and Digital Arts; Director, Global Studies Program
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M.A., Ph.D. New York University
B.A. Carleton College

Courses I Teach:

  • Digital Film
  • Global Communication
  • Multi-media Design
  • Photography

Additionally, I direct graduate research projects in media education and media literacy.

Professional Experiences:

Prior to teaching at Saint Michael's, I worked in New York City as a journalist, digital animator, and a media developer at the Media Workshop New York, a non-profit organization devoted to issues of media education and media literacy.

David Mindich, PhD

Professor of Media Studies, Journalism & Digital Arts
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Ph.D., M.A. American Studies, New York University
B.A., Brandeis University

I am a professor of the Media Studies, Journalism & Digital Arts. I have been at Saint Michael's College since 1996. Before coming to Saint Michael's, I was an assignment editor for CNN. Along with my two books, I have written articles for the Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Wilson Quarterly, and other publications.

Kimberly Sultze, PhD

Associate Professor of Media Studies, Journalism and Digital Arts
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M.A., Ph.D. New York University
B.A. Carleton College

I came to Saint Michael's from New York University, where I taught in the Department of Culture and Communication, Program in Media Ecology.

Professional Experience:

Prior to earning my academic credentials, I worked in print journalism at The Independent Monthly in Sydney, in television production at KTCA-TV/Twin Cities Public Television, and as an editor with FIS-New York. In 1994, I served as planning director for the Institute on Media Literacy and Education. I have traveled and performed research in Sri Lanka, India, Egypt, Israel, Australia and New Zealand.

Areas of Expertise:

My teaching and research interests include visual communication (digital imaging, photography, film, video and Web design); intercultural communication; the history, criticism, and theory of communication; and the cultural implications of new media techniques and technologies.

Courses I Teach:

  • New Media I and II
  • Senior Seminar
  • Feature Writing: Nature and the Outdoors.

Jerald Swope, MA

Associate Professor, Department of Media Studies, Journalism and Digital Arts
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M.A. Missouri School of Journalism, University of Missouri
B.A. Brown University

Areas of Expertise:

Photojournalism; media literacy; digital design; photo elicitation; interdisciplinary service learning experiences

Courses I Teach:

  • Advanced Visual Storytelling
  • Digital Media; Media Revolutions
  • Photojournalism in the Digital Age

Here's a great example of the opportunities for digital production enthusiasts among our students: In an exciting recent competition, five Saint Michael's students and their adviser, Professor Jon Hyde, worked round the clock, October 29-30 and came out on top in the 24-hour film-making contest that included students from Saint Michael's, the University of Vermont, Middlebury College and Burlington College. The contest was part of the 2011 Vermont International Film Festival. Jon hopes and believes it will become a regular thing.

A few years ago Professor Jerry Swope team-taught a service-learning class called HIV/AIDS in East Africa with Political Science Professor Trish Siplon. After taking this class, students traveled to Tanzania for three weeks where they and Professor Swope worked closely with the Ilula Orphan Program to document the projects and community programs this organization supports. Students created a website for the orphan program and wrote grants for funding. That's a classic St. Mike's-style opportunity, and similar ones are likely to arise in your years here.

For the past three presidential election seasons, Professor David Mindich, a nationally acclaimed author and expert on youth media habits, has led his Media and Politics students on a trip to New Hampshire to engage with national presidential candidates as they campaign leading up to the primary there. You'll also meet with the media who cover them. Every four-year student will have a chance to be part of this popular tradition one year of your time at St. Mike's.

Professor Traci Griffith, with her background in law, is also one of the college's pre-law advisers and has helped many journalism students see opportunities as a legal specialist in journalism (or a media issues specialist in a law career!) Through her media law and ethic class she has inspired many of her students to go into law.

Professor Kimberly Sultze offers a study-abroad re-entry class. Along with Jon Hyde, she has worked with the college's Study Abroad Office to produce the Global Eyes Competition and Calendar. Student photography from around the world is featured in the calendar, and its production is a practical learning experience.

Our students are reporters, editors, photographers and columnists for the campus student newspaper The Defender, which in its print and digital formats has won regional student press awards many times. This experience counts for academic credit.

Internships at Burlington-area news outlets are available and encouraged, offering an important foot in the door. Students can also do valuable internships over the summer in their hometown or while studying abroad.

Some of our graduates are employed in newsrooms all over New England and beyond. Many other graduates are working in web design, film production, photojournalism, advertising, public relations, marketing, and politics (one of our graduates is the press secretary for the Senate Judiciary Committee). Some are doing jobs that weren’t even invented a decade ago, like Director of Social Media. Others have gone on to a range of graduate programs: law school, media studies, American studies, and other fields.

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